ON THE TRAIL OF NEGRO FOLK-SONGS

A Collection Of Negro Traditional & Folk Songs with Sheet Music Lyrics & Commentaries - online book

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218                          NEGRO FOLK-SONGS
Thought I fell in ten foot o' water, Thought I fell in ten foot o' water, Thought I fell in ten foot o' water, Over my head, over my head.
Jay bird sat on a hick'ry limb, Jay bird sat on a hick'ry limb, Jay bird sat on a hick'ry limb, Over my head, over my head.
Jean Feild, of Richmond, gives a work-song she has heard from Virginia Negroes:
WORK-SONG
Help me drive 'er, Help me drive Jer, Help me drive 'er, uh, home!
Little Mary, Little Mary, Little Mary, uh, home!
To de mountain, To de mountain, To de mountain, uh, home!
The most famous of these work-songs is a ballad relating the exploits and the fate of one "John Henry." Tradition among the Negroes has it that the hero of this was a big, handsome Negro, a steel-driver on the Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad. He did his work with sledge and hand-drill, and resented the intrusion of machines to compete with hand work. He boasted that he could work faster than any steam-driller, and won in the contest staged, but died as he laid down his triumphant hammer.
John Harrington Cox has made a study of the origin and variants of this ballad, the results of which are found in his volume, "Folk-Songs of the South," which the Harvard University Press has just issued. His researches have yielded extremely valuable material, re-







E-Book - An Annotated Compendium of Old Time American Songs by James Alverson III